Wednesday, April 11, 2007

How to tell Easter is over

What? Never mind:
Several prominent scholars who were interviewed in a bitterly contested documentary that suggests that Jesus and his family members were buried in a nondescript ancient Jerusalem burial cave have now revised their conclusions, including the statistician who claimed that the odds were 600:1 in favor of the tomb being the family burial cave of Jesus of Nazareth, a new study on the fallout from the popular documentary shows.
The Easter Bunny has seen his shadow and departed. That means all those fantastic springtime claims - accompanied by so much fanfare 2 months ago - will soon quietly disappear from the Discovery Channel's website. Wishful thinking and bad math last only a season.

The most intriguing thing about Jesus' tomb is not that there's one in Jerusalem today that is thought by many to be the one* but that if one reads history the tomb of Jesus is conspicuous by its absence. There is not a single rumor from those early years that it's hither or thither; there are no pilgrimages to see the final resting place; there are no catacombs filled with early Christian scribbles like one finds for Peter or Paul. Following Easter morning the tomb of Jesus simply falls off the pages of history.

To the Christian the reason for that is obvious. For archaeologists and filmmakers, I guess the location of Jesus' bones will simply have to remain one of history's mysteries, at least for now**.

* far more likely is that it's not unlike the slivers of the True Cross and vials of "Virgin's milk" that circulated in the Middle Ages: an artifact with the magical power to separate the credulous from his money.

** Only 361 days until Easter. They'd better get looking.

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